Santorum Acknowledges Anal Sex Problem

| Thu Feb. 17, 2011 2:44 PM EST

Well, it's about time. Back in September, I wrote a story about former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who was jetting around to Iowa and New Hampshire laying the obvious groundwork for a presidential run in 2012. But as I noted back then, getting voters to take him seriously is going to be a little challenging given that if you Google his name, one of the first search results is this site, created by Seattle Stranger editorial director and syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage. In revenge for some nasty homophobic comments Santorum made back in 2003, Savage successfully used the web to turn Santorum's name into a sexual neologism that means "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." The site is often credited with contributing to Santorum's defeat in his 2006 re-election bid.

Years later, Santorum's Google problem is still significant. I tried to ask him about it last year for my story, but he and his consultants refused to return my calls. But this week, Roll Call managed to put the question to Santorum and he actually answered! Here's what he said:

It's one guy. You know who it is. The Internet allows for this type of vulgarity to circulate. It’s unfortunate that we have someone who obviously has some issues. But he has an opportunity to speak.

Santorum advisers told Roll Call that burying Savage's site on Google was virtually impossible. The reporter suggested that Santorum might consider getting his supporters to fight back with blog posts and Internet traffic directed at his own sites. But his advisers wrote this effort off as too expensive. Of course, what they didn't say is that the homophobes Santorum panders to—he's a frequent fundraiser for the anti-gay marriage group National Organization for Marriage—aren't nearly as many or as motivated as the pissed off gay people and their friends, relatives, and sympathizers who were outraged by the comments he made equating homosexuality with bestiality. The fact that Santorum can't generate enough web traffic to bury the Savage's seven-year-old site in the Google rankings suggests that winning the bigot vote won't be enough to put him in the White House. But of course, we knew that. After all, it wasn't even enough to keep him in the Senate.

Meanwhile, note to the Santorum campaign: Roll Call didn't mention this, but here is one really easy way the future candidate can solve his Google problem. Last year Savage told me that if Santorum would donate $5 million to the gay marriage advocacy group Freedom to Marry, he'd take down his site all together. Considering the alternatives, Santorum might consider that something of a bargain.